Shearings Leisure Group rebrands

Shearings Leisure Group, the parent of Shearings Holidays, Coast & Country Hotels and other brands, is changing its name to Specialist Leisure Group.

Richard Calvert (pictured), chief executive, said the change aimed to “better reflect the breadth, depth and diversity of the group, and to be more relevant to the trade, investment community, as well as current and potential future partnerships”.

He said: “Shearings is one of our best-known, marquee brands. It’s 115 years old and leads the market in the UK for escorted touring.

“But having it also as our group name causes confusion. People don’t realise the breadth and depth our business has in terms of specialisation.

“As well as being specialists in escorted touring and river cruising through the hugely successful Shearings Holidays, we are also specialists in hotels, in events, in experiences – in the UK, in Europe and worldwide,” said Calvert.

“Specialist Leisure Group better describes the true scope of the group.”

Calvert explained how the business, which is 100% owned by private equity investor Lone Star Funds, had changed in the 12 months since he had joined as chief executive.

“We have refreshed the Shearings Holidays brand, we’ve heavily invested in improving our hotels, we’ve moved to a new head office in Wigan, we’ve invested in a new reservations system called ‘Travelink’ which goes live in six weeks’ time, we’re putting in a new market-leading CRM system called ‘Market Developer’‎ later this month (June), and we’ve signed a ground-breaking partnership with Hearst Magazines/Country Living to operate two branded Country Living Hotels,” he said.

“These are the first two and the plan is to roll out more in 2019.”

A new workforce management system, to replace all manual systems, will go live in the coming weeks.

The group has put Wi-Fi on 240 coaches and will soon introduce an‎ airline-style entertainment system to all its fleet in July.

Calvert said Specialist Leisure Group now operated eight different brands, employed 2,600 people, operated 45 hotels – 42 of which are fully-owned by the group, carried 1.1million customers and enjoyed repeat business of 66%.

Neil Hardy has recently joined as digital director to drive the group’s digital agenda, and chief finance officer Gary Speakman is moving to become chief operating officer to manage new strategic initiatives and systems.

Calvert said he would shortly be announcing a new chief financial officer, who will join the group on October 1.

A corporate website has been launched at specialistleisuregroup.com.

It details all the group’s brands, which are: Shearings Holidays, Bay Hotels, Coast & Country Hotels, ukbreakaways.com, Caledonian Travel, National Holidays, Country Living Hotels and Wallace Arnold Travel.